Ye Olde Fighting Cocks: PETA Says British Pub Offends Chickens

Animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is calling for Britain’s oldest pub, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, to change its name.

According to the Herts Advertiser, the animal rights group sent a letter to Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, requesting the pub change its name because it affiliates itself with cockfighting, a sport that has been banned from the country since the 1800s. Instead, the group would like to see it renamed to Ye Olde Clever Cocks as a way to recognize “society’s growing compassion for animals and in celebration of intelligent, sensitive chickens.”

“We understand that the pub has long been called Ye Olde Fighting Cocks and that there may be some resistance to making a name change, but just as many pubs with names tied to slavery changed their names to match modern sensibilities, so it’s high time for The Cocks to change. If you must stick with tradition, you could revert to the much kinder name from 1756: Three Pigeons.”

Dawn Carr, PETA’s special projects manager and the person who sent the letter later revealed that she has yet to go Ye Olde Fighting Cocks herself, and she doesn’t think any other PETA members have attended either.

“I hope, the next time I am [in St. Albans], I will have the chance to enjoy a pint in the newly renamed Ye Olde Clever Cocks.”

Ye Olde Clever Cocks Desgin
The logo for PETA's suggestion of what the pub should be called.

The pub’s landlord, Christo Tofalli, told the St. Albans & Harpenden Review he has no intention of changing its name, because he wants to protect its “history and heritage.”

“This is an historic building with a remarkable story behind it, and I take the responsibility of looking after the oldest pub in the country very seriously and want to share that history with locals and with the tourists that visit from far and wide all year round.”

The St. Albans & Harpden Review reports that the pub, which was founded in the eighth century, has been known as Ye Olde Fighting Cocks since 1872, but it has had many different names previous to that. Tofalli added that while the name is affiliated with the country’s history of cockfighting, they celebrate the banning of the sport.

“We are animal lovers here and are one of the few pubs left that welcomes dogs. And we usually support animal welfare organizations and a lot of the great work they do.”

Alasdair Melville, a former employee of Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, said there are more important issues on which PETA should be focusing.

“Rather than worrying about the name of a pub, I think PETA should worry about looking after chickens at chicken farms for example. There is a better way to make a point.”

There have been plenty of similar reactions to PETA’s request, and a lot of support has been sent to Ye Olde Fighting Cocks. On its official Facebook page, the pub thanked everyone who has supported them during this time.

“Your support near and far is outstanding. In essence your messages went mostly like this:

1. History rocks
2. Pubs rock
3. Chicken jokes

Keep No.3 coming, I will have enough for a book soon lol! [sic]”

Do you think PETA may be overreacting to the pub’s name?

[Images via Wikimedia Commons and the Daily Mirror]